Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Perpetual Future, or a Feeling of Despair

The other day, while scrolling through Twitter feelings about the annual AHA meeting, I saw that someone said " too much of digital work is stuck in a perpetual future tense."

The perpetual future.

My husband once said, when he was an Economics major and was also working at a window factory at night, that he finally understood Marxist rhetoric, because no matter how hard he worked, there is always another window.

If an archivist were inclined, they could easily fall under the spell of Marx--trudging endlessly, day after day, after the "future" where all the things are accessible, is a dream which is of course impossible. And eventually leads all archivists to a sense of despair and rebellion.

This sense then leads people like me to get pretty annoyed when some historian tosses off a comment about how much we archivists are NOT doing (whether or not his comment was directed at archivists is entirely beside the point, since archivists all carry an inordinate amount of guilt around with us about how much we cannot save).

The perpetual future, indeed.

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"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.